At Your Service

In the 1981 movie Arthur, dapper John Gielgud played a quintessential English butler forced to put up with the antics of Dudley Moore's drunken playboy.

But that's nothing like the day-to-day life of real butlers, swears Mary Louise Starkey of Starkey International, the Denver-based service-professional training institute sponsoring this weekend's Restoring the Art 2003 conference. In reality, daily details are what count.

"Most Coloradans would probably roll their eyes and say, "Oh, please!" to the term 'butler,'" Starkey says. "We're trying to modernize the word to 'household manager,' which is exactly what they are."

The highlight of the conference, whose theme is "Serving the Server," will be Sunday's lecture by Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler, who was acquitted late last year after being charged with stealing more than 300 of Di's personal belongings. Burrell's lecture is titled "A Heart to Heart With My Peers."

"What better place to bring to the forefront the issues of service and privacy?" asks Starkey. "My guess is that his peers will require him to be fairly candid. They want to know what happened so they won't make the same mistakes. We all want to grow from this."

The attendees, who Starkey says will consist of an even mix of men and women from around the world, will also be privy to such scintillating seminars as "The Fundamentals of Fine Jewels," "Traditions and Trends in the World of Fine Silver" and "New Trends in Crystal Glassware."

"One of the sexiest seminars is definitely the one on diamonds," she says. "But everyone always really likes the wine and champagne tastings as well."

Those who want a closer look at the dividing line between the upstairs and downstairs worlds can shell out $550 for the conference. (Or, if you're just a royal-watcher looking for some good dish, you can attend Burrell's lecture, which is open to the public, for $100.) "We encourage people who are thinking about entering the profession to attend," says Carolyn Klein, research and admissions coordinator at Starkey. "But anybody is welcome. I think it would be interesting for the average person like me to learn all about high-quality china and exquisite linens."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn